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Hyperventilating ultra-tight and frenetic avant-prog is the province of PoiL, a rather lunatic and twisted -- but startlingly adept -- trio based in Lyon, France. Perhaps any description of their music is too limiting, however: when the spirit moved them on their debut recording, L'Ire des Papes, PoiL stretched out and explored classical and even piano jazz-informed styles, although often frantically and with comic craziness waiting in the wings. Formed by keyboardist and principal composer Antoine Arnera along with bassist/guitarist Boris Cassone and drummer Guilhem Meier (all of whom sing, shout, chant, and/or intone deep mantras) in 2005, PoiL released L'Ire des Papes digitally in April 2008, and with composition titles referencing the likes of Chopin and Ravel performed on grand piano, acoustic bass, and drums, the band displayed its comparatively organic, spacious, and exploratory side, although with bits of collective pummeling, florid keyboard attacks, and sudden left turns into precise mechanistics and oddball vocal hijinks.
In January 2011 PoiL were back with a sophomore outing, Dins o Cuol, which saw the band ratcheting up the zaniness quotient. Released on the Dur et Doux label, Dins o Cuol featured the same trio lineup as L'Ire des Papes, but with Arnera on electric keys and Cassone on electric bass, and with herky-jerky rhythms and abrupt changeups executed at a sometimes dizzying pace. Loony singing, alternately cartoony and overdriven keyboard voicings, and a generally manic delivery -- not to mention an album-ending "bonus" of calculatedly outrageous body function effects and unaccompanied silly wordless vocal experimentation -- marked PoiL's now unrestrained commitment to the musically warped.
Meanwhile, PoiL were proving themselves to be a high-energy, très délirant live unit, attracting interest from organizers of the annual Rock in Opposition festival in Carmaux, France. PoiL were invited to perform at the RIO event in September 2013 -- sharing the stage with the likes of Soft Machine Legacy, Faust, Univers Zero, Present, miRthkon, and Guapo -- and put on a wildly entertaining, even jaw-dropping show. That same year, the Milan, Italy-based AltrOck label picked up Dins o Cuol for wider distribution, and 2014 saw AltrOck release the band's third album, Brossaklitt, which clearly demonstrated that PoiL's capacity for musical mayhem remained undiminished. ~ Dave Lynch